Ange Postecoglou’s open mic training session towards the end of last week provided us with a fascinating insight into the work being done on the training field at Celtic.
It showed a gentle side to the Australian but also a meticulous and outspoken character. The build-up play already looks quicker which combined with new signings, should take the Hoops to the next level.
One of the Bhoys’ biggest problems heading into the new season is in defence where they need to patch a leaky backline that could be plagued by a mass exodus.
Jonjoe Kenny and Diego Laxalt have already returned to their parent clubs while the fear of Kristoffer Ajer leaving still lingers.
As a consequence, Celtic have targeted their defence as an area that needs bolstering. They’d been working on a deal for Mario Vuskovic but now according to Italian media, they’ve submitted an offer for Aaron Hickey.
Per the print version of il Resto del Carlino (via Celtic writer Joe McHugh), the Hoops have made an offer of €4m (£3.5m) for Hickey’s services.
Reports last month stated that Celtic were plotting a move for the teenager, an idea that has now seemingly come to fruition.
Not since the days of Kieran Tierney have Celtic had a truly consistent left-back.
Boli Bolingoli’s moment of madness last summer has caused havoc with his future at the club after he visited Spain on an unsanctioned drip during the height of the pandemic.
His time at Parkhead remains unclear but if Celtic have any sense, they should cut ties now. Laxalt was a defensive liability last term, while Greg Taylor proved a divisive character.
He spent time on the treatment table but did look promising at times, especially from an offensive point of view. Last term, only three Celtic players provided more key passes than the full-back – 1.5 per match.
Hickey, therefore, would be an undoubted upgrade on their current options.
Once of the Celtic academy, that spell was sandwiched between two stints with Hearts. However, the Scottish defender took the brave decision of moving abroad last summer, heading to Bologna in Italy.
His defensive game has improved considerably but it’s in the final third where he really stands out, taking on players and proving tricky to deal with.
Possessing plenty of pace, Hickey uses that to his advantage to track his marker well and then make a recovery. Coincidentally, their tackle rate is identical. Hickey won 1.5 tackles per 90 minutes last season while Taylor prevailed in 1.5 successful challenges per game.
What makes Hickey such an outstanding candidate is the fact that he can play in a plethora of positions too.
With the ability to feature in midfield, former Hearts man Austin MacPhee once remarked: “He’s so young he could play a lot of positions. He could end up being like Busquets.”
That’s a glowing review for a young player who’s also been compared to Germany legend Philipp Lahm.
At the tender age of just 19, the Scot already plays like a man wise beyond his years. This would be an astute piece of business from Postecoglou.